Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Mamas On Call-- Check'em Out!

I'm always on the hunt for websites with grounded parenting advice, so when I found Mamas On Call, I was as pleased as punch. I'm including it as a link on See the Sites. The two mamas in question, Family Therapist  Ellen Schrier and Pediatrician Rachel Zahn, know from whence they speak. I was initially captivated with Schrier's piece on "The Best Friend Parent", which is the first in a series on the topic; what could have been a heavy topic is approached here with a refreshing and balanced perspective.. Zahn's health information is accurate and relevant without being alarmist or extreme. Their other offerings are surprisingly substantial and yet bite-sized and relatively easy to swallow. I could go on and on-- just being very general here instead of gushing praises on these sharp-witted and intelligent women, as I am really doing deep in my heart right now. There are so many good articles on this site, you could keep busy for a couple hours. If you are looking for some insights and good, no-nonsense-but-still-fun parenting ideas, this is definitely worth putting into your favorites.

More Reasons To Love Mr. Rogers

Oh, good heavens, as if we needed more. Check out this little trivia-factoid article on Fred Rogers...it even made me tear up a bit. If you're a softie like myself, grab your hankie...

Kudos to Mamas On Call, one of my new favorite websites, for linking in to this.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

What to do With a Whiny Youngster

This morning Kiddo and I got up early to let Joe sleep in a bit. It was pleasant; my boy was in Thoughtful Three Year old mode and sat working on pattern blocks while I fed Gus, our huge gray cat. Kiddo called me over to show me a flower he'd made with the blocks and then went to rummage through a basket of lacing beads for a string, knocking it over and sending beads onto the floor. Kiddo grabbed up the string and began to walk away. I gently reminded him that the beads needed to be put away. Instantly, Thoughtful Kiddo disappeared, bodysnatched by my other child, Whiny Kiddo.

Perhaps you haven't met Whiny Kiddo, so let me introduce you. Whiny Kiddo is who appears when Thoughtful Kiddo is tired, hungry, taxed-out, maxed-out, wanting all the attention in the room, a bit stressed with his new preschool and aftercare routine just because it's change. So when things get tough, many of those frustrated feelings come to the fore. They are overwhelming and sometimes, I have real tenderness and empathy. At other times, however, I find Whiny Kiddo to be very, very annoying.

These are the times that having a few pat answers can help, especially when I'm tired and Kiddo's near tears, trying to negotiate his way. This seems to happen most during transition times or when my attention needs to be elsewhere, making dinner or shopping or getting ready for preschool or bed. It's easy to get sucked into these seemingly-reasonable negotiating sessions because if it's going to make him stop crying, it's worth it, right?

While giving them what they want in the moment may be a quick fix, when it comes to the long term, the answer is Not Really. Parents often mean well when they acquiesce, and there are certainly some times for a little give and take. However, we are the adults and need to be in charge. Our kids need us to be firm; they count on having something to push against that doesn't always give way. Despite their tears, kids take comfort in the belief that we know what's best for them and plan on sticking with it. Heck, if we don't, who does?!

We all have to be benevolent bosses of our families--that's beyond dispute. And we know our best bosses work less from on high--they act more as a strong leader who supports their team on the playing field. Mom's team, however, can sometimes be whiny and want a lot, both materially and willfully, so it's great to have some quick, consistent deferral answers which provide structure and help our families stay in balance.

1. "Let me think about this for a few minutes, please." This one is great for buying time, and is often the first phrase I grab when I can't give an instant "Yes". Taking a few minutes to check in with what everyone needs: yourself, your child and your family or those around you is a valuable time-saver. Sometimes, you'll find yourself giving saying "I've thought about it and yes, it's fine ..." and at other times you can offer

2. a "Yes and Here's When" answer. When the request is perfectly reasonable but must be delayed, deciding when it can be fulfilled and then giving them this information is preferable to giving a "no" answer. Kids often don't hear beyond yes or no, so having a positive answer and then more definition can help to keep things light. For some children, this will be enough. For others, there may be more persistence to have their request granted immediately, and then you can reaffirm your decision while helping them move on by giving two positive directions--

3. "It's a good idea, so let's write it down so that we remember. Right now, this is what I have for you." Doing something concrete to acknowledge their desires while providing clear boundaries about what's happening in the moment can help some kids let go of their need to persist. Writing down notes feels good for kids if we are sure to follow through with them. When you are ready to do the desired activity, bring the note to their attention, read it again, and then do what it says. When we do this, children learn to trust this deferral technique as an experience which promises a positive outcome, and we stay consistent with what we've said we're going to be doing in this moment, which our children need from us.

Sometimes, in some moments, some of these techniques may not be employable--say, in the middle of a busy grocery store or traffic. Three year olds might be able to 'write' their idea on a Magna Doodle in the backseat, but there are just times when they are going to nag our ears off no matter how we empathize or positively promise "later". There are times at the store when they get a case of the GimmeGimmes and begin to nag. At this point, I usually like to ask the child a more reflective question

4. "I notice that you keep asking me about this. Do you think that if you keep asking, I'm going to change my mind?" At this point, the child is clued in to the fact that I understand what their intention is, and is listening and interested, which is what I want. (I have had several children of different ages give me a "yes" answer to this question, by the way.) Then I conclude with this simple statement:

5."I've been very clear with you that we are not (doing/buying) this right now and I'm not changing my mind. I'm all done talking about it. You can talk about it, but I'm all done."  Then, let this statement guide your parental actions. While the child is whining or nagging, ignore ignore ignore as best you can. Point out other interesting things to notice; if the conversation reverts back to whining, just reaffirm your statement  just once--"I said I was all done talking about this" and become mute on the subject for the rest of the time; don't get sucked into reminding them you are all done repeatedly, because it keeps the conversation going. We may have to use this phrase many, many times before our kids will learn to drop it sooner than later, but it's worth every bit of practice, and it helps us keep our authority with our children without being overly controlling.

Kids have the right to their desires, opinions and feelings, as do we all. The ignoring tactic doesn't completely ignore the child, it is an active ignoring, so we are actually listening for when the conversation turns around and then we can move forward with them, pleasantly. This also affirms to the child that they themselves are not really being slighted inasmuch as we are setting some boundaries around certain actions which we find unpleasant. We are actually giving a social context to the behavior-- people generally don't like to engage with others who whine, nag and complain.

We all want what's best for our kids, and it's hard to know what that might be in the moment. Taking a few minutes to decide what we need to happen, to choose how we want to defer their request if need be, and to think of the bigger picture gives us a chance to be better prepared for the upset, the meltdowns and the nagging. I'm not trying to be overly simplistic by the way--there are about a million variables here--but I think these techniques help us to be stronger as parents by giving us room to think, to predict, and to be an authoritative parent who is reliable and consistent. Our children appreciate flexibility on our end, and they also need us to say what we mean the first time. Waffling and giving in to whining actually makes them feel less secure, because they do want us to be firm and predictable. So, when in doubt, just ask them for a minute before answering. They'll learn to know that you respect them enough to give their desires due consideration before making a decision, and they'll learn to trust that you mean what you say.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Tenderness

Tonight, singing Kiddo into dreamland, I had a quiet moment of feeling very tender. It was lovely.

I haven't felt tender lately. I've felt squished. I let myself be exposed to a lot of nastiness and anger, and then felt a bit wounded and hurt and frustrated. Some of this is based on the reality that my "common sense" is not the "common sense" of a lot of folks. These folks are not bad people, or stupid, or any of that. In fact, many of them are intelligent, bright individuals who are really great people. (I am not including the nasty, angry people here, by the way.)

See, I suppose it's like this: I have a crisis of 'description of faith' of sorts. I don't belong to any religion. In fact, I am not sure any one religion really does it for me. It has nothing to do with the deities in question, it's just that my faith is a bit nature-based and informed by my environment, my belief in science and my understanding that people are fallible but boy, do they have an incredible spark within.

This is a tricky one for me. Nothing quite fits; I feel hungry for answers, some sort of spiritual fulfillment. This satisfaction seems to take place when I am amongst the trees or at the beach with my ankles in the water, the pull of the tide so elemental and strong under my feet. These are the moments that speak to me. When I see the land of the desert as we drive to visit my folks, the trees twisted and blackened, a signature of fire--this is what moves me. When I see a child with their head tilted backward, skyward, laughing or shouting for the sake of it, for the sake of the life inside--or an older couple, so in love still and don't you know it!-- that's what I can connect with.

It's a hard place to be in. Most of my family are people of faith, and I deeply respect this. I respect their path, their desire to be closer to God. I think this is a great strength and comfort to them, and I am so glad each and every one of them have this faith to turn to. However, for me, there's a fundamental disconnect somewhere. Perhaps it's the trappings of it that get in the way. I've tried, believe me, to find something that would "fit" for me, and yet all the stuff keeps getting in the way. It's almost as if organized faith and I are magnets of opposite poles-- we keep getting close, but missing the mark, not quite connecting.

Add to this that I don't believe that I have the right to decide how anyone else should live their life. A bit less of a progressive in this way, more libertarian. Right now it's an election year, and I'm baffled and troubled. (This isn't new, either, politically, I'm always feeling a bit baffled and troubled.) It seems like a lot of people are angry and upset, and for so many reasons. Some good, some not so good. Yesterday, I read a lot of comments from really hateful, bigoted people who tend to use their faith as a reason to--and I have no other way of translating this-- keep others in their place.

And it would be so much easier if the ranting and ill-informed cliches were coming from people who didn't automatically link themselves with God, thus instantly assuming moral superiority. When someone--anyone-- is being an ass, well, they're more or less uncomfortable to hear but relatively easy to write off. When someone begins to amplify their righteousness with religion of any sort, I kind of want to run into the street screaming "blah blah blah I can't hear you" like a petty five year old.

I have a sister who would tell me (very lovingly) that people are people.  They are flawed and do stupid things and say hurtful things and mean well--- and that people are not God. I know this because I am all of those things-- well-meaning and flawed and capable of doing stupid and hurtful things. And when I seek, for so long now, I just keep coming up empty, coming up short. Prayer, for me, is more or less trying to put out good energy, to set my intentions deliberately,  and to hope for the best. Nothing is permanent, nothing is reliable --it's all so in flux. It can all change in a moment.

So I'm comfortable, for the most part, with not understanding, with loving my family and friends just for who they are, and even those parts of them that are informed by their faith, because it's so valuable. I do, by the way, consider myself a person of faith. But answering a questionnaire for Faithful America, I was stuck. "Which faith best describes you?" A list as long as my arm, and nothing that fit for me. I had to write my version of faith in a little box and hope that they'll keep me on the email list.

I'm feeling a little tender for my son, for myself, for my family. I love them all so much--scattered here and there-- and I hope they know this. And I'll have to content myself with feeling a bit like an oddball-- and that's okay. I've heard there's a place for all of us out there, somewhere. My place, for now, is home with my own family, teaching and nurturing at my little school, and patiently doing the best I can with what I've got.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Don't Ask Me About DADT

(This is a departure from my usual Reflective Mama-type post. But I can't be a good mother without speaking out for what's right.Please know I'm not out to offend, but to defend those who aren't defended nearly enough.)

This could have been a great day.

But it wasn't. In Washington DC, Republicans blocked the repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell. For those unfamiliar with DADT, this gist of it is simply this: if you are homosexual and want to risk your life in the Armed Forces, you don't have to jump through the "Are you or have you ever participated in homosexual activities?" hoop. This used to come right before or after the "Are you or have you ever been a Communist?" interview question. Well-intentioned, DADT was once seen as a way to keep gays and lesbians from being kicked out of the military. Now, nearly twenty years later, it seems to be a way of forcing homosexuals to stay in the closet.

Imagine, being willing to lay your life on the line for the oppressed, those whose human rights are being trampled-- possibly risking your life to support the soldiers and service persons around you, yet not being able to freely enjoy those same human rights. When your beloved comes to visit, you cannot express your affection freely. Unlike your fellow soldiers, you might not be able to talk openly about your partner and your relationship the way others around you do without a second thought. There is no financial allowance if you want to live off base with your partner, as there is for heterosexual married couples. Zero financial support for your partner if you go overseas and are unable to provide for them here in the US, and if your partner has parented children that you consider family, there's probably no structure to support them.

Because if you are in the military, you aren't "supposed" to be a homosexual. Of course, when I was in the Navy, there were plenty of homosexuals that were discreet and stayed in, no problem. But we were always told that if you decided to come out, you would be given a dishonorable discharge and as one captain told us "You won't even be able to get a job at McDonald's."

Don't Ask Don't Tell also puts homosexuals and bisexuals at risk for hazing and harm. What happens when you are being harassed for being homosexual, yet can't report it to your chain of command for fear that it will lead to your own discharge for revealing the cause of this abuse? This look-the-other-way policy drives real antisocial behaviors underground, because it will take an incredible amount of risk and courage on the part of the victim to make it stop.

I was in the Navy in the early 90s. I met a lot of great people there, but also was horrified at what was allowed to go on as leadership looked the other way. This was the era of Tailhook, mind you, a sensationalized incident which didn't exist in a vacuum. A woman on my ship was brutally raped by two other sailors and she got the psych eval and subsequent discharge. The men? They were transferred to other duty stations.

If this can happen to a heterosexual woman, living a life more or less sanctioned by the military, what is the harm and risk others face if they are being forced to live in the closet?

We have to get over the idea that we ourselves decide the moral rightness of another person's sex life.  A person's sense of what is moral is truly between their own selves and the deity of their choosing. No one has the right to impose their sense of moral standards regarding sexuality on anyone other than those in their own immediate family, or those who affect one's immediate family. This is what laws are for. Laws were not made to accommodate religion or politics; laws are enforced to keep order and civility among the natives, and shouldn't be misconstrued as the tools for any one person's agenda.

I personally find it deeply disturbing that there are Americans who would continue to deprive other fellow Americans, upstanding, tax-paying citizens, of equal rights which would protect their loved ones, spouses (in some states), partners, families and their mutual property. Those who are not impacted can never know how incredibly inhumanely homosexuals are treated in many places across the globe. It's easy to look at homosexuality from an ivory tower, to say it's a choice. Biology is not a choice, any more than some people's brains are wired to be left-handed or geniuses.

Humankind once feared left-handed people, smart people, too.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

What to do about all that Halloween Candy?

Is your kid too old for the Halloween Fairy? She who comes Halloween Night and 'trades' kids little prizes or toys for the candy they are willing to part with? One child once told me "I only left the Halloween Fairy a little bit of candy, so she left me a toothbrush. I'm going to give her more next year."

Well, if they are too old, consider this: a Halloween Candy Buy-Back. This is organized by dentists around the country. They buy back the candy for a dollar a pound and then send it to troops overseas as part of "Operation Gratitude". If this appeals to you, and you want to find a participating dentist in your area, click the link below:

http://www.halloweencandybuyback.com/

(or, knowing my luck with links, you can paste it into your browser!)

Friday, September 17, 2010

Scoffing Sesame Street

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree. Perhaps my combination of fear/disgust/loathing for All Things Elmo has transferred into my DNA and was passed onto Kiddo.

I've tried three different times in his life to introduce Sesame Street. Actually, it was the Old School Sesame Street, the one with the disclaimer that the content might not be suitable for a preschooler. I'll take my chances on Kiddo thinking junkyards and construction sites are playgrounds any day than risk the Big Red E making him whiny for every kid product under the sun. All of these introductions have been acts of desperation, by the way. The first two times, he was sick. This time, he was recovering and I was sick. But still, after 10 minutes--

"I don't want to watch Sesame Street. I don't like it."

Next time, I'm saving my money and re-renting that double-dvd Phish concert.

Blueberries for Sal- Updated

I was reading this children's classic to Kiddo tonight at bedtime and was suddenly struck by a more modern version of the book in my head. To be sure, Robert McCloseky's book is beautiful and inherently benevolent, something I look for in the children's books I share with son and students. But the endpages, where we see Little Sal's mother calmly canning blueberries after The Bear Encounter, Little Sal playing with the wooden spoon and canning rings?

I think an illustration of Little Sal's mother sitting with her head in her hands, having a Very Stiff Drink and promising herself to bring a rifle the next time she goes to Blueberry Hill is more like it.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Supporting Scissors Work for Young Children

This supplemental for families was first posted on my blog for my preschool, Plumtree Nursery School here in Portland. You can check out what we're doing there: just click on the link in See the Sites.

Every day at preschool, children are offered a variety of opportunities to hone their fine-motor skills. Using lacing cards, eyedroppers for dripping color, peeling small stickers off paper, constructing puzzles with small pieces--all of these activites help to increase their manual dexerity, which supports the development of their self-help skills, such as using zippers, buttons and snaps, and eventually tying their shoes. Add to this the creative expression of cutting paper into strips, zigzags, and other small pieces--when children cut up paper, they will often direct our attention to a small pile of scraps, instructing us to "look at what I made". It's easy to see why scissors work is a great way to help our children develop essential skills in a potentially creative way.



Here are some tips for making your child's scissors work time fun for them and comfortable for you:



Setting the Stage: Plan ahead to sit with your child while they work, and understand that a child who is very engaged in scissors work may sit for 20 minutes or more. Find an easy-to-clean place where dropped paper scraps won't be trouble to clean up, and know that as your child becomes more adept with the scissors, they will be able to focus more on keeping their work over the table. For now, however, their focus will be on manipulating the scissors and paper, which will take nearly all of their concentration, so leave the television off and keep distractions ot a minimum.

Considering Which Kind of Scissors to Use: Know, first of all, that even scissors labeled "safety scissors" can cut flesh. The only kinds that can't are suitable only for playdough; generally, the plastic-blade safety scissors can only cut construction paper, and not very efficiently; this product usually provides more ripping than cutting. That said, you do have two choices: providing coils of playdough for your child to practice cutting with the blunt scissors, or using safety scissors with appropriate materials.

Create Clear Guidelines and Expectations: Just as adults need to learn safety precautions for their tools, children need much guidance in scissors safety. Every time you sit down with your child, be clear which materials are for cutting and which aren't. Children using scissors must be sitting down in a chair, so make sure all your materials are at the table before starting. Children should be taught the safe ways of holding scissors for work (with the correct fingers in the holes) and for carrying/passing scissors to others (holding blades and presenting handles to the other person). Note: if you must remove scissors from a child's hand, don't grab the blades to do this. You can be badly cut. Trust me on this--I know this from personal experience!
Not All Paper Is Created Equal for this Task: Young children often need their paper selections tailored to their level of skill. The size and thickness of the paper do matter; generally, children can cut things between tissue/crepe paper and cardstock, and the thicker the paper is, the larger the paper can be. Avoid thicker papers like cardboard and tagboard, which can 'trap' scissors; instead, offer full or half sheets of cardstock, standard-weight printer paper, and similar sizes of gift wrap or construction paper. Lighter-weight materials like tissue or crepe paper should be presented in smaller pieces or strips for cutting, as they have a tendency to tear. Tearing paper, in and of itself, is a fun activity, however, it isn't necessarily supportive of this particular skill. Scraps can be offered in a box or paper bag, and don't forget that much of your recycled junk mail is suitable for this purpose. Children love cutting into catalogues and circulars, as well as ribbons on gifts and other packages. Fun!

Use their Work: Consider if some of their larger scraps can be used for little notes, and set these aside in a small basket. This not only teaches the importance of reusing materials before they hit the recycling bin, but also gives your child a sense of having been helpful by creating something useful and necessary. If we focus primarily on the process and less on the product, your child may feel pride in having "done the job" of creating scrap paper. They can be instructed later to get paper from this basket for lists and notes, which adds to the value of their work.

Inspire Your Child: Folding paper and cutting out 'snowflake' type patterns or doll chains for our children is fascinating to them. They may, of course, continue your work by cutting it apart, however, these sorts of activities intrigue children as they are curious about these sorts of things. Once they have some dexterity with scissors, show them how to press a fold into paper and cut on the fold. They'll be delighted with their work!

Playdough Activities: For some children, and some settings, offering safety scissors may not be your safest or best first choice. Nonetheless, all children need to have practice with this tool. Playdough allows us to present scissors practice in the safest way possible, with plastic scissors especially made for the purpose. I've regularly seen young children while away large chunks of time happily cutting up coils or strips of playdough into empty muffin tins, containers or palates and playing candy shop or bakery. If you are working with a group of children, be sure each has their own container/s for this activity. This is a great activity for children who may be prone to acting out physically when they are upset or frustrated, or in larger group settings where one-on-one supervision can be a challenge. Be sure to offer other play props, too, such as popsicle sticks or caps and corks for making impressions, so that if the child becomes upset or frustrated with the scissors, they have other options immediately available and can take a break from the scissors work if need be.

Lastly: Understand Your Child's Perspective on Scissors and Cutting. I can't stress this enough. While we adults have lots of understanding about which materials are for cutting and which aren't, your child may think that everything can be for cutting. This is for two reasons: first, our children just don't have our experiences and cannot critically judge which items are suitable for cutting and which should be left alone; second, we ourselves model some of the cutting we don't want our children to do. If your child sees you using scissors on food in the kitchen--say, preparing chicken or snipping herbs-- they may likely want to try cutting their food with scissors. Many of our children have had the experience of an adult cutting their hair with scissors and might want to try this themselves. Likewise, if you have occasion to cut fabric or clothes while you sew or modify clothes, your child may think this is interesting too. The point of all this is to sit with your child as they work and to store the scissors out of reach when they aren't in use. When I was four or five, I cut my own hair as well as my sister's, and hid the hair in a crayon box so that the adults "wouldn't find out". While these incidents (and their resulting hairdo's--or hair-don'ts!) result in stories and photos for the family, know that this sort of cutting is rarely an act of defieance...at least, not until they are significantly older!

Friday, September 10, 2010

I'm Not A Bad Mother

if I have a glass of wine before heading to the preschool potluck in 20 minutes or so. Why a glass of wine? Let's recap the afternoon, shall we?

Actually, why recap when I can give it to you in five words and a hyphen:

First Full-On Temper Tantrum

I won't go into the gory details, but really? It took me an hour--an entire hour-- to cut up an onion to go into the rice dish I'm making for the aforementioned potluck. This has nothing to do with my prowess in the kitchen, by the way. And if you know me, you know how much I love to go to group gatherings. It has nothing to do with the other parents, by the way, who are all pretty great. It's just that I'm feeling Hermit-Crab-in-my-Shell-ish Hellish at those sorts of things to begin with. I was born sort of missing that small-talk gene that many other people have. So I have to pretend at small talk, (and actively avoid bringing up Dr. Who--- by the way, David Tennant--where did you come from?!) which makes me look like I suck anyway.

And I don't mind sucking in front of people who will get to know me over a year and understand my weird, surface-y conversation is just a Big Social Group anomaly, but to have to prepare for this event amidst screams of anger about:
  1. the ramp for his cars "not working how I like"
  2. the damn water bottle, which I opened three times, only to have him twist it shut and get upset
  3. our relatively benign fourteen year old cat, who is "scary" and "going to hit me"
was a bit much.

As I jokingly mentioned to a friend over the phone, Kiddo "shouldn't be worried about the C-A-T, he should be worried about the M-O-M."

I did put him in his room, by the way. As I've said before, positive discipline is about just that, discipline. I'm not stupid, and I did have to get this rice dish cooked.

Now he's strumming his "guitar"-- a plastic piece of Pex pipe (filled with small beach pebbles like a shaker) and looped with a plastic slinky (assumably his "plug-in cord") and watching Neil Finn. This is what we save the tv for some days--when Mama's tank of compassion, empathy and patience are hitting the red zone that warns "Empty". I think the shrieking and frustration and sabotage-the-water-bottle tactics took it out of me. And I'm not the kind of lady who's done in by a glass of wine, or even by a tantruming three year old. But you know what? That glass of gevurtztramainer sure tasted good.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Finished...For Now

John Lennon sang that life was what happened when we were looking elsewhere, planning something completely unrelated to one's own reality. While this can seem disheartening, there's also another message, which is that it's good to know when to stop.

Remember the wallpaper I wrote about earlier last month? We have had a tempestuous relationship, that wallpaper and I. I eased it off with a razor, then later tore savagely at it with a device called a Paper Tiger. Zinnser (the manufacturer) is not paying me for this plug, but let me just say that I'djhave given my left pinkie toe to have had this device at the onset of my travails. Nonetheless, after the last 3 days of fierce work and the lovely wonderful friends who have stepped in to help with childcare and guidance and labor, we now have wallpaper off, the mudding and patching done and the first coat of primer on the wall. And we've stopped.

Stopping comes at a good time. Joe is very busy at work, very engaged in what he's doing and this has been a not-easy week. We need a little ease--a little glass of wine, a little Doctor Who. We debated putting a second coat of primer on tomorrow morning and it just felt like we were pushing it. I have one day, tomorrow, to get the entire physical environment of the preschool in place. This is something I actually find exciting, and I already have my lesson plans sketched out, ready to go. The trick will be keeping Kiddo out of our areas of work, and that means there will be some switching out care of housework and setup. So tonight, it's good to say "It's nine. Let's stop."

So here's to heeding the call of the other plans. Life is happening,right now.